The surging popularity of non-alcoholic drinks could be a boon for Thanksgiving hosts who want to pour something more sophisticated than water for guests who aren’t partaking of alcohol.
Distillers, brewers and vintners are now racing to come up with beverages that meet the quality standards they’ve established for their alcoholic products. Heineken, for example, is gearing up for the U.S. release of Heineken 0.0., which the company’s pitching as a beer appropriate for typically sober activities, such as working out at the gym or eating lunch in an office cubicle.
But the new class of no-proof wines and spirits also have a place alongside alcoholic options, as Charleston Grill wine director Rick Rubel has discovered since adding Leitz’s Eins Zwei Zero sparkling Riesling to the bar menu. “I’m running out,” he says. “I’m trying to get some more.”
Of the non-alcoholic wines that Rubel has tried, Eins Zwei Zero stands out for its nuance. Its producer describes the beverage on its website as “clean and fresh with notes of lime and citrus,” adding “of course, an alcohol-free wine never will give the same depth, structure and weight as a wine with alcohol, but here it is close to it.”
According to importer Schatzi Wines, Germany has nearly a century’s worth of experience with non-alcoholic wines, which are made using technology that lowers the temperature at which alcohol boils off. Leitz is using a system that brings the boil-off point down to 28 degrees Celsius, so the aromas peculiar to wine aren’t completely decimated by heat. (It’s compensating for the lack of alcohol, which is partially responsible for wine’s flavor, with sugar.)
“It isn’t wine, so it’s hard to use wine terminology to describe it, but it does have wine-like aromas: orange citrus, rhubarb and tarragon,” Schatzi’s write-up explains.
“It adds a whole other dimension to cocktails,” Rubel says.
Eins Zwei Zero retails for about $18; Charleston Grill charges $10 for a glass. For more information, visit schatziwines.com.